Italian regulator opens investigation into rating agencies

Italy’s Corte dei Conti, the body set up to safeguard the country’s public finances, has opened an investigation on the reports published by rating agencies Moody’s, Standard&Poor’s and Fitch on Italy’s public debt.

The reports under investigation were published between May and November 2011.
Speaking to press agency Reuters, Lazio-based prosecutor Angelo Raffaele De Dominici said damages caused by the reports could have reached €120bn.

“I started the investigation because I don’t think it is fair to publish approximate judgments on Italian sovereign debt. Their reports triggered a number of chain reactions,” he said.

Over the last months, public attorney Michele Ruggiero started a similar probe into Standard & Poor’s, over the credit rating agency’s downgrades of Italy at the beginning of the year, which led to a strong sell-off of Italian assets.

The conclusion of his investigation has been taken into consideration by Consob, Italy’s stock market regulator, which will decide if Standard & Poor’s will be able to operate on the Italian market in the future.

So far, all rating agencies have rejected all charges.

“We believe the reported claims are baseless and unsupported by any evidence. We will continue to defend vigorously our actions and the reputation of our company and people,” Standard & Poor’s said.

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